The Simpson University Experience - Shane Wachlin

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"I joined the Outdoor Leadership major hoping to get a degree in what I enjoyed, but it ended up being a place where I learned more about myself and about education."

— Shane Wachlin, outdoor leadership major, class of 2016

Shane Wachlin’s time in Simpson University’s Outdoor Leadership program was filled with self-discovery and personal growth.

“Outdoor Leadership gave me a place to explore and be comfortable with myself and to develop my ideas of education and who I am,” he said. “ I joined the Outdoor Leadership major hoping to get a degree in what I enjoyed, but it ended up being a place where I learned more about myself and about education.”

One of the things that most impacted Shane, an alumnus from Waconia, Minn., during his time at Simpson were his professors and their commitment to his education and their availability to discuss difficult theories and ideas.

“They have committed deeply to my learning and to my development as a human being,” he said. “Their whole goal is to form you into a more compassionate, well-learned, educated and informed citizen who is able to have intellectual integrity. They are uplifting and encouraging.”

After graduating in April 2016, Shane spent his summer working as an assistant instructor for Outward Bound, a national organization that offers expeditions and programs designed to “change lives through challenge and discovery,” according to the group’s website.

“Outward Bound seeks to instill character amongst adversity, which is a passion of mine,” he said.

After he finished this seasonal job, Shane decided to spend a year “steeping in his learning.” He wanted to take the time to read and write without being prompted to by a professor.

“My liberal arts education has given me an understanding for the full person,” he said. “That includes reading literature, interacting with art, culture, math, and nature, being physically fit, and developing my mind, body, and soul.”

Shane also hopes to attend the University of Edinburgh to pursue a master’s in environmental ethics or environmental education.

“My ultimate goal is to because a professor and to develop the mind, bodies, and souls of the individuals I come in contact with,” he said.

Based on his positive experience, Shane said he would recommend Simpson to others.

“You will understand who you are better; you will become a better critical thinker; you will be able to understand difference ideas and philosophies; you will be given a better sense of belonging and purpose,” he said. “These skills allow you to navigate the world. It’s not just about a career; it’s about so much more than that.”

Shane also discussed how Simpson’s emphasis on a liberal arts education is beneficial for many career paths.

“Having a four-year liberal arts degree will prepare you to be a leader,” he said. “You can take the leadership models you learn into your parenting, your friendships, guiding, pastoral work, or the missions work.”

Shane received several scholarships, as well as government aid, to help pay for college and said he appreciates the support from donors that enabled him to attend Simpson for three years.

“Thank you for contributing to my education and to the lives of students who I will hopefully influence as I go out from Simpson,” he said. “You’ve changed my life; you’ve helped it. You will change other’s lives because I have been changed.”

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